Healthcare in CzechiaAccording to the European Consumer Health Care Index of 2019, the Czech Republic’s healthcare system is ranked 14th out of the European Union countries. The European Consumer Health Care Index attempts to provide a ranking based on the perspective of the consumer. Some measures used to determine this perspective include “patient rights and information, access to care, treatment outcomes, range and reach of services provided, and prevention.” In fact, according to the Index, healthcare in Czechia is more successful than initially expected, considering the small amount spent per capita.

Healthcare in Czechia

The Czech Republic spends around 7% of its GDP on healthcare. Other funding comes from employees and employers who pay toward the healthcare system. Anyone who works for a Czech employer has health insurance. The Czech Republic government makes contributions on behalf of the unemployed, so coverage is essentially universal.

Aside from employee-funded and government-funded public healthcare options, the Czech Republic also offers an option for private insurance. The differences between the public and private healthcare systems can be significant. For instance, common problems with the public system include very long wait times for patients, tired and overworked doctors and a lack of English-speaking doctors. These are common issues in public healthcare systems, to which some countries have responded by offering a more expensive but private option, as the Czech Republic does.

Coverage for All

When comparing healthcare in Czechia with other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, the Czech Republic stands out as a “star performer.” Its high ranking is attributed to healthcare accessibility, cost-effectiveness and lack of corruption.

The idea of universal healthcare in the Czech Republic dates back to the 18th century, when the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II built hospitals and organized ways for everyone to have healthcare. By 1900, most European countries had state-subsidized healthcare. The Czech Republic, which was then part of Czechoslovakia, had one of the best healthcare systems in Europe even then.

In an article published by StarTribune, author Bonnie Blodgett explores what she considers to be the most important aspect of Czech healthcare: the idea of “self-administration.” Blodgett dates this back to the year 1989, when the Czech Republic government began to emphasize a bottom-up, instead of top-down, decision-making process.

A prime example of “self-administration” in Czech healthcare, aside from the ability to choose public or private, is doctors’ incentives to practice medicine. In the United States, being a doctor is a well-paying job. As Blodgett points out, some Americans may enter medicine with a primary interest in the financial incentives. This is not the case in the Czech Republic. Instead, doctors and nurses enter the profession to make sick people healthy. This is incentivized by the government, which gives and withholds money based on medical results.

Problems with the Czech System

The system of “self-administration” is not perfect. Many Czech doctors and physicians have threatened to leave the Czech Republic to work in a different European country that will pay them higher wages. Additionally, some critics of the Czech system worry that the government’s insistence on keeping public healthcare as affordable as possible risks turning healthcare in Czechia into a two-tier system. Interestingly, Blodgett points out that many Americans travel to Prague to undergo surgery because of how inexpensive the procedures are compared to in the United States.

Despite potential problems for the Czech Republic’s healthcare system, the country’s determination to keep healthcare affordable and accessible for all citizens is commendable. For now, the Czech Republic remains one of the most affordable and well-ranked healthcare systems in Europe.

Lara Smith
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in the Czech Republic
In the wake of its post-communist economy, the Czech Republic is working to revitalize its financial strategy and to become a commercial powerhouse in Eastern Europe. However, obstacles preventing the country from improving its economical state are due to the nature of its communist past.

The absence of labor markets forced the communist government to impoverish its citizens in order to sustain the state. Causes of poverty in the Czech Republic stem from the country’s political and economic background during the late 20th century and are exhibited through its complex economic struggles, faulty environmental policies and societal differences.

The Czech government enforces strict fiscal restrictions, which inhibit its economy from reaching its potential. Czechoslovakia strategizes its economy towards export-based trade to maximize external growth. This plan compromises economic security and further perpetuates causes of poverty in the Czech Republic. In order to strengthen its fiscal prospects, the Czech government must invest in its domestic demand for the sake of creating a more sustainable economy.

Instead of resourcing its environment responsibly by taking into consideration long-term consequences of pollution and resource obsolescence, the Czech Ministry of the Environment approves of policies that allow systematic ruin to the environment. This, combined with the issuing of permits without charge to large corporations (which wastes 47.5 billion Czech Korunas), deprives the Czech economy of state revenue it could utilize to fund public sectors that are desperate for financial aid.

With unemployment at 10 percent and various instances of political corruption, Czech society (which is exhaustively compromised of its middle and lower class) is distrusting of governmental figures and industry elites that dominate its politics. While the labor market of the Czech Republic is currently strong and wage increases are on the rise, causes of poverty in the Czech Republic are also contributing to fracturing the coexistence between social classes. For example, the Czech Republic’s reliance on its pension system is not ideal for economic longevity due to increasingly falling replacement rates.

If the Czech Republic is to preserve its strong labor market and to extend pensions to its citizens, it should focus on domestic market growth to meet the demands of its country from the inside out. In addition, the Czech government should focus on lessening the severity of its fiscal restrictions in hopes of liberating its economic prospects and combatting the causes of poverty in the Czech Republic.

Kaitlin Hocker

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in The Czech RepublicThe Czech Republic is in Central Europe between Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. After World War I, the Czechs and the Slovaks of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire came together and formed Czechoslovakia. A political revolution caused the nation to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.

The country has since opened up to free market capitalism and has a parliamentary republic. These factors have contributed to only one in ten Czechs living below the poverty line when last measured in 2016. The Czech Republic is among the countries in the EU with the lowest rate of poverty, which has allowed hunger in the Czech Republic to be almost non-existent.

The Effects Of Hunger For Czechs
Hunger in the Czech Republic is not a primary concern for the country’s government due to its .48 percent malnutrition rate. This rate means that .48 people out of every 100,000 in the Czech Republic will die of hunger, making it one of the least hungry countries in the world.

When UNICEF last did a study of hunger in the Czech Republic, it found that hunger was not an issue that was affecting many in the nation. Currently, only two percent of Czechs under the age of five suffer from stunted growth caused by malnutrition. On top of this, only one percent of Czechs under the age of five suffer from being underweight due to malnutrition.

Babies do not suffer from hunger in the Czech Republic due to the abundance of food in the nation. When last measured, only eight percent of babies were born with a low birth weight and the majority of babies born underweight quickly grew to a healthy weight.

The Takeaway
The shift from a socialist government to a government that practices free market capitalism alongside its parliamentary republic have allowed hunger in the Czech Republic to be non-existent. For the one in ten citizens in the nation who are impoverished, social welfare programs ensure these people get adequately fed. Overall, hunger in the Czech Republic is almost a non-issue.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Refugees in the Czech Republic
Although the current refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII, the uptick of Syrian refugees coming into Europe in 2015 has been continuously met with hostility from post-communist Central European countries, such as the Czech Republic. Discussed below are the leading facts about refugees in the Czech Republic and their implications.

10 Key Facts about Refugees in the Czech Republic

  1. The Czech President, Miloš Zeman,  opposes the quota system (which is based on a country’s population and wealth) proposed by the EU but has not yet followed Slovakia and Hungary in challenging the courts. Rather than meeting the quota to take in about 2,600 refugees, Czech leaders are now discussing broader security steps.
  2. The Czech Republic, along with Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have the most opposition towards the quotas set by the EU.
  3. Before the Syrian refugee crisis, there was only one detention center located in Bělá-Jezová. There are now three; the center located in Bělá-Jezová has been dedicated to vulnerable migrants, such as families with women and children.
  4. Under the 2015 EU relocation quota, the Czech Republic has to accept around 4,300 people seeking asylum, which is about 410 refugees per one million of its population.
  5. In 2015, 3,644 people made up the population of refugees in the Czech Republic.
  6. In 2016, 1,475 people applied for internal protection. The government granted asylum to 148 applicants and subsidiary protection for 302 people.
  7. President Zeman has stated, “Our country simply cannot afford to risk terrorist attacks like what occurred in France and Germany. By accepting migrants we would create fertile ground for barbaric attacks,” according to his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek.
  8. The Czech Republic accepted 12 refugees and does not plan to take in anymore according to Interior Minister Milan Choyanec. The EU may take action against the Czech Republic in September if they continue to deny refugees.
  9. Since May 2016, there has been no offer of resettlement by the Czechs for any refugee within the EU program.
  10. President Zeman has stated that all refugees must prove that they are politically persecuted if they seek asylum and “the fact itself that they come from a country in which fighting is underway is no reason for being granted it.”

Although these facts are disheartening, the Czech Republic maintains its embassy in Damascus, Syria. The Czech Republic will also continue to provide humanitarian aid to Syria, as well as provide help for refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

Stefanie Podosek

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Household incomes in the Czech Republic have increased after recovering from two recessions in the past decade. As a result, both poverty and hunger rates have dropped.

In 2016, the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) reported that about one-tenth, or 1.02 million people, in the Czech Republic live below the poverty line. Those citizens are dying at a rate of rate of .48 per 100,000 from malnutrition, ranking them 125 out of 172 countries for life expectancy rate.

In 2006, the depth of hunger, which indicates how many food-deprived people fall short of minimum food needs was reported to be 200, where anything under 200 is considered very low. The malnutrition prevalence for children less than five years for that year was 2.6 percent, with malnutrition defined as a person’s weight for age being more than two standard deviations below the median for the international reference population. In 2007, this rate had almost doubled to five percent.

The 2008 recession impacted all areas of society in the Czech Republic, especially those suffering from hunger. That year the country reported a 120 on the depth of hunger scale, a considerable decrease from 2006. The malnutrition prevalence also decreased to a mere 2.1 percent.

The bouncing rate of hunger in the Czech Republic could be a result of economic rise and fall.

Currently, the country’s economy is growing at a rate of 2.2 percent, a decrease from 4.7 in 2015. However, this rate remains steady due to the Czech Republic’s link to the Eurozone, low global commodity prices and the relaxed pricing policy of the Czech National Bank, helping to stabilize the Czech economy.

Current statistics of hunger in the Czech Republic are unavailable, but the Czech Republic has one of the lowest poverty rates in the EU. This alone foreshadows a bright future regarding the ongoing rate of hunger in the Czech Republic, that only time will accurately tell.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

Modern medicine has rapidly developed over the past few years, but even today, diseases are still a major threat to many Europeans. Located in Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic is home to over 10 million people and, although poverty is at an all-time low, diseases in the Czech Republic still threaten its citizens. Data shows that the biggest threats are cardiovascular diseases, which take the lives of thousands every single year. Here is a list of the most threatening diseases in the Czech Republic.

Non-communicable Diseases

When breaking it down, non-communicable diseases make up more than 90 percent of the most harmful and deadliest diseases in the Czech Republic. From here, cardiovascular diseases make up for 48 percent of deadliest diseases, with cancer following second-most deadliest disease at 26 percent. Cancer is on a rise in the Czech Republic. For example, the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer has increased by 41 percent since 1990. Meanwhile, cardiovascular disease is actually decreasing. Ischemic Heart Disease has the highest mortality rate from the list of all diseases in the Czech Republic, but has luckily decreased by 25 percent over the past two decades. According to experts, poor diet, high systolic blood pressure and tobacco smoke are the most significant risk factors for Czech Republic citizens.

Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases account for only a small percentage of deaths. Diarrhea, lower respiratory, and other common infectious diseases, which make up for 90 percent of communicable diseases, contribute only three percent to the deadliest diseases list. However, there have been sudden spikes in mortality rates for communicable diseases in the Czech Republic. The mortality rate for diarrheal diseases has increased by 307 percent between the years 1990 and 2013. Lower respiratory infections are only becoming more common.

Chronic Diseases and Obesity

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) stated that the Czech Republic needs to work on both preventing and reducing chronic diseases. In particular, there are many chronic diseases in the Czech Republic that are caused by obesity. The rates of adult obesity have risen from 14 to 21 percent between the years 2000 and 2011. Obesity is causing fatal strokes and heart attacks, while also making many people develop diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The prevalence of diabetes in the Czech Republic is about eight percent, which is higher than the OECD average.

The head of the OECD Health division, Francesca Colombo, stated that “The fact that obesity rates are higher than the OECD average and growing is very alarming.” She continues to explain that “The Czech Republic needs to renew its focus on programs that prevent disease.”

From communicable and non-communicable diseases, there is a lot of work to be done in order to prevent and reduce diseases in the Czech Republic.

Morgan Leahy

Photo: Flickr

 Czech Republic
Education in the Czech Republic is considered average on a global scale but could be improved through a number of administrative modifications.

The country’s system guarantees free primary and secondary education to all citizens, with a focus on vocational schooling. Responsibility is distributed among the central government, which sets national standards, and local schools are granted considerable discretion in policymaking. Teachers are free to implement their own curriculums with small classes more conducive to learning.

Education in the Czech Republic certainly has some well-documented successes. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that there are “good conditions for adapting learning to local needs” and that there are “a range of initiatives to strengthen evaluation and assessment in the school system.” Furthermore, the Czech Republic houses the largest percentage of adults with at least an upper secondary education worldwide.

However, when it comes to the quality of learning, the Czech Republic maintains only a mediocre status. An OECD 2012 report known as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), placed the country around average in mathematics and reading and above average in science.

Such average results can be credited in part to finances. In 2012, the Czech Republic devoted less than five percent of its GDP to education, one of the lowest rates among developed nations. Furthermore, teacher salary rates are notoriously low.

While increasing spending will better education, the OECD also believes the quality of learning can be improved by establishing a more common curriculum between schools, as well as strengthening communication between the central government and school administrators.

In addition, many Czech students face educational limitations due to socio-economic status. The government has recently taken steps to counter this through the establishment of school counseling centers. Standardized tests have also been introduced in grades five and nine in order to “provide feedback to students, inform parents and teachers about student learning and school quality and to evaluate the work of schools.”

If the government continues to take steps to improve education in the Czech Republic, it is likely the system will transform from one of average status to one of outstanding quality.

Gigi DeLorenzo

Photo: Flickr